HuskerOnline - 2022 Class Breakdown: Cornhuskers sign small class this cycle
football Edit

2022 Class Breakdown: Cornhuskers sign small class this cycle

As we do every year, it's time for us to give our impressions of Nebraska's National Signing Day football class, which was compiled by this reshuffled Cornhusker coaching and personnel staff.

These are HuskerOnline's impressions of the various highs, lows, hits and misses of Scott Frost's fourth full recruiting class in Lincoln, which somewhat felt like a transition class with all the new assistant coach additions.

As we have seen in the past, players can undoubtedly rise well above or fall short of their early on-paper potential. We won't know the real impact of this collection of prospects until at least a couple of years have passed.

But, in the interim, we bring you our annual post-NSD preliminary opinions on the 2022 Cornhusker football recruiting class and our detailed breakdown of the group.

Gem of the class

Every year there is a "gem" or two of Nebraska's signing class and it's no coincidence that Gould is the gem of the class as the top rated recruit for Nebraska. Gould has special ability in the secondary. He has great length and is very physical, regardless of which DB position he plays.

Diamond in the rough

It's clear how Johnson caught the eye of the NU coaches. His film is just him running for 2,300 yards or so and 42 touchdowns. What's kind of funny is that we liked his film as a defensive back, too.

Sleepers  

It's hard to narrow this down to just one guy, so we chose two projected in-state linebacker prospects. Nebraska fans got to see Hausmann for the first time at MIKE after playing DB and OLB his previous two years of high school. He's still figuring things out, but has the physical tools.

Stenger is a fierce competitor, so it's understandable why Nebraska is keeping quarterback on the table with him. He is a great leader as a signal caller, but he probably ends up at inside linebacker while at Lincoln. He's got an intriguing combination of tangibles and intangibles that make him a special talent.

Best video highlights

We went back and re-watched a number of clips for both Jones and Johnson. First with Jones, he is a very polished route runner and has a real feel for the technical side of the position. Johnson has a great way of putting his foot in the ground and changing direction. He has an extra gear to go with that change of direction as well.

Will contribute next season

When Singleton was mentioned during Scott Frost's recruiting press conference he really perked up to talk about Singleton. Nebraska needs to replace both safeties as well as the boundary cornerback. Singleton can play all three. We would project Singleton to figure into the safety spot this fall.

Position most helped

Nebraska actually had an intriguing selection of defensive backs added to the team on NSD as Travis Fisher continues to be a standout recruiter on this staff. The Huskers brought in recruits with length for the secondary in this recruiting class across the board.

DeShon Singleton is listed at 6-foot-3, and Jaeden Gould and Jalil Martin at 6-foot-2. Malcolm Hartzog is the outlier at 5-10, but he is a quick-twitch athlete. Most of these DB signees are versatile in that they could eventually land at either cornerback or safety.

Position least helped

This was a tough recruiting cycle for the Huskers at the offensive line positions. Though several promising o-line recruits took official and unofficial visits to Lincoln over the summer months, when Greg Austin was replaced as offensive line coach in Lincoln the Huskers had zero commitments for the offensive trenches.

New Jersey all-state offensive lineman Justin Jenkins was a signing day announcement in favor of Nebraska, so they did not totally strikeout at o-line for this cycle.

Donovan Raiola is now on the job as the NU offensive line coach and he has a big task on his hands to address the clear shortcomings on the field and in recruiting for the Pipeline. He will be looking to address immediate needs through the transfer portal until he gets a good grasp on his overall position group.

Schools that hurt Nebraska the most

They are a couple programs that put a dent into Nebraska's recruiting haul for this cycle.

The first is Missouri. On both lines, in particular, the Tigers came out on top with several prospects the Huskers pursued. Such as Omaha Metro area OL Deshawn Woods, DL Jalen Marshall who officially visited Lincoln, DL Marquis Gracial, and one-time Husker OL commit Valen Erickson.

The Stanford Cardinal also took two offensive lineman away from Nebraska who had taken official visits to Lincoln over the summer in 500-mile radius recruits Jake Maikkula and Lucas Heyer.

Oregon also came out on top with and a pair of defenders who would have looked good as Blackshirts in Devon Jackson in and Ben Roberts.

Schools that Nebraska hurt the most

Athlete Gage Stenger was originally committed to Kansas State. Quarterback Richard Torres, JUCO defensive back DeShon Singleton and outside linebacker Ernest Hausmann all had Wildcat scholarship offers and considered K-State prior to choosing the Huskers.

Hurts the most that they got away

This list of recruit "misses" this cycle has to start with the in-state prospects who never really gave Nebraska much consideration, but there were some other losses that stung, too.

In this Class of 2022, the Husker coaches struck out with the top four rated football recruits in the state, according to Rivals: Omaha Central offensive tackle Deshawn Woods [Missouri], Omaha Burke outside linebacker Devon Jackson [Oregon], and Bellevue West tight ends Micah Riley-Ducker [Auburn] and Kaden Helms [Oklahoma].

There were also a couple top border state recruits who took summer visits to Lincoln, but ended up elsewhere in Kansas athlete Jaren Kanak [Clemson] and Missouri defensive lineman Jalen Marshall [Missouri].

The Huskers also whiffed on a legacy player. James Monds III is the nephew of former Blackshirt All-American Wonder Monds and he ended up choosing conference foe Indiana over NU.

No big deal that they got away

Offensive lineman Valen Erickson and defensive end Hayden Schwartz both had a mutual parting of the ways with Nebraska after they initially verbally pledged to NU. Schwartz was definitely Undersized and didn't fit the prototype Nebraska usually look for on their defensive line, and Erickson never seemed comfortable with Nebraska for whatever reason.

Future All-Big Ten

If there is a part of this class (as well as the portal transfers) that should be solid, it's in the secondary. There is talent. There is length. There are some physical presences. Gould will be the standout in that group and that's what could elevate him to all-conference honors.

Future All-American

One never knows for sure, but on paper, not none of the recruits who signed with Nebraska yesterday really jumps out to us as a probable future All-American. We hope to be proven wrong on that score.

Further Comments & Summary

Back in the mid-80s, after missing out on several of their top recruiting targets across the board for that cycle, Tom Osborne simply said in his post-signing day comments: "Well, this is the best we could do this year."

He seemed underwhelmed by those initial on-paper recruiting results from that particular signing class; but, in the end, the class ended up being a pretty decent one when it came to eventual contributors on the field.

Husker fans have to be hoping history repeats itself with this particular group of 2022 signees.

Due to COVID-granted extra years, as well as redshirting, Nebraska had over 45 scholarship freshmen on their roster, which means this was always going to be a smallish-type class in 2022. And that's what it turned out to be with NU signing just 13 combined high school and junior college players for this cycle.

A good number of scholarship slots were reserved for transfer portal players to provide immediate help for the upcoming season, as well as to balance out the scholarship distribution chart.

Scott Frost's first four recruiting classes at Nebraska averaged a No. 18 national ranking, whereas this 2022 group is currently sitting at No. 59 in the country, according to Rivals. It's also the first time in the Rivals.com era, going back to 2001, when the Huskers will not sign a single Rivals250 prospect.

Even recognizing the smaller class size for this cycle and the increased focus on acquiring transfer portal players, there's no way to spin this other than it being the lowest-rated recruiting class Nebraska has taken on National Signing Day in a long time.

This was just a strange recruiting cycle all the way around for Nebraska and, hopefully, it will be an anomaly. The Huskers only hosted one official visitor over five months of 2021, including the entire regular season. That was not a wise decision.

In reality, this class needs to be viewed in conjunction with the assorted transfer players Nebraska eventually adds to their roster before next season. It's an entirely different world in college football now with the free agency of the transfer portal, but recruiting needs to improve for Nebraska going forward in a significant way if this program is ever going to get unstuck from the mud of mediocrity it has become mired in recently.